Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Top Ten Edgy Jazz Men Who Looked Like They Fell Out of the Lawerence Welk Show

Okay, so I only have three: Serge Chaloff, Jimmy Giuffre, and Teddy Charles.  Of course, all three were active in the fifties, when pretty much everyone looked like Lawrence Welk.  Well, everyone except Miles Davis.  

Neither Chaloff, Giuffre, or Charles left a large set of documents, and of the three only Giuffre is relatively well known.  I just listened to my first Teddy Charles record this afternoon: The Teddy Charles Tentet.  

First,  a mild rant against "tet" proliferation.  The terms solo, duet, trio, quartet, and quintet are not only well established but useful in jazz.  The different between 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 represents basic distinctions in musical form.  Past that point the differences fade for all sorts of reasons.  Calling a larger group an octet or nonet, or tentet is at best cute and at worst pretentious. 

That off my chest, the 1956 Teddy Charles is the kind of disc I most enjoy adding to my collection these days.  Charles is all but unknown beyond collectors, so the Tentet recording is a buried treasure.  It is also a very affordable treasure.  I got it from eMusic for a measly seven credits.  Amazon has it for under seven bucks.  

While Miles was recording his famous First Quintet albums, vibraphonist Charles was up to something rather more adventurous.  The Tentet album is probably best classed as post bop.  It is reasonably accessible, but is way ahead of (that doesn't mean better than) what Miles was doing at the time.  Here is a sample, a very interesting and compelling interpretation of 'Nature Boy'.  This ain't Nat Cole!  
Teddy Charles/Nature Boy/The Teddy Charles Tentet
I was impressed enough to invest a few more credits on Collaboration West.   This album from 1953 is a lot more adventurous.  Giuffre is on it, playing tenor and baritone sax.  Shelly Manne is on drums, Shorty Rogers on trumpet, and Curtis Counce on bass.  Here is an appropriately titled sample:
Teddy Charles/Further Out/Collaboration West
Charles apparently has had an interesting life.  He pretty much retired from jazz at the end of the fifties, to open a sailing business in the Caribbean.  He has recently returned to the jazz scene.  It is worth taking a ride on this boat.

ps.  I notice that the downloading Collaboration West brings my iTunes jazz library to 900 albums.  That is a rather padded number, as it counts discs in my many box sets.  Still, I feel like I should throw confetti. 

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